A Hamas official has criticised a publicised visit to Auschwitz death camp by a Palestinian Authority (PA) adviser for perpetuating the “big lie” of the Holocaust.
Fawzi Barhoum slammed the decision by the opposing PA faction’s official Ziad al-Bandak, an advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, to visit the Nazi concentration camp to honour the 1.5 million mainly Jewish victims killed there during the Second World War.
Al-Bandak, a Christian, made the tour at the invitation of a private tolerance-promoting Polish foundation. Palestinian Ambassador to Poland formerly made a joint visit to the camp in 2007, alongside his Israeli counterpart.
The Islamist militant Hamas group seized control of Gaza in a 2007 coup. After the takeover in Gaza by Hamas, Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government and appointed his own Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad. A planned reconciliation which was to be achieved through cross-Palestinian elections has been indefinitely postponed.
It is thought by some Palestinian political factions that by acknowledging the extent of Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, it diminishes the suffering of its own people under so-called Israeli occupation since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
In 2011, Hamas pledged to prevent a UN initiative to make Holocaust education in Gazan schools mandatory. The scheme was designed as part of a human rights curriculum by the UN Reliefs and Works Agency, which is responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees.
Describing such an education programme as “a contemptible plot”, the ministry for refugee affairs in Gaza issued a statement insisting “we cannot agree to a programme that is intended to poison the minds of our children”, accusing the initiative of “serving the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people”.